He made things bigger just by being part of them.

Baseball, the Yankees, even New York – everything grew in his presence. George Herman Ruth Jr. – the Babe, the Bambino, the Sultan of Swat – connected with all of them as easily as his bat connected with the ball.

And sent them all soaring.

But, as Jane Leavy’s “The Big Fella” explains, if Ruth’s adult life was large and joyous, his childhood was small and mean. Born in Baltimore in 1895, he saw six of his seven siblings die in childhood. His father beat him. His mother drank.

George Jr. rebelled, playing pranks and stealing sips of beer at his dad’s saloon. So the old man sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, home for orphans and the “incorrigible or vicious.” Little George was seven.

It turned out to be an unexpected blessing.

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